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Dave Matthews Band - Come Tomorrow (Album Review)

Wednesday, 04 July 2018 Written by Simon Ramsay

Photo: René Huemer

The phrase ‘make love not war’ perfectly sums up ‘Come Tomorrow’, a record that finds Dave Matthews Band veering away from their usual forays into genre-twisting jam band territory and socially conscious songwriting. Although musically and thematically less dynamic than past efforts, it is abundant with heart, soul and spirit as it strives to remind us that love, in all its various guises, is still alive in this crazy world of ours.

Proving that for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction, ‘Come Tomorrow’ - the belated follow-up to 2012’s politically-charged ‘Away From The World’ - demonstrates an empathetic understanding that what people really need right now is music that, rather than perpetrating the same aggressive and divisive behaviour as certain authority figures, offers unity, happiness and hope for a brighter future.

Essentially a love letter to the global community that inhabits planet earth, Matthews’ outlook on this record is consistently joyous, mature and easygoing as he spins tales of young romantic encounters, addictive lustful pursuits and magical connections betwixt lifelong soulmates.  

Elsewhere, he treats us to rose-tinted nostalgia, conjuring up wonderous images of creation, innocence and adolescence on both the lush-new-day strains of Samurai Cop (Oh Joy Begin) and Do You Remember.

Although very middle of the road compared to the band’s more unpredictable and eclectic records, the material mostly transcends its safe aesthetic by marrying the singer’s unquestionable conviction with glorious melodies and sparkling arrangements. Exuding a breezy vibe, the uplifting choruses of live favourite Idea of You, Come On Come On and Again and Again gift reservoirs of authentic soul to Matthews’ sometimes idealistic views.

In spite of featuring songs written over the last 13 years, and being jointly produced by four of the band’s past collaborators in Rob Cavallo, Mark Batson, Rob Evans and John Alagía, the record coheres very nicely. Possibly too nicely. This outfit’s best work was born of a yin and yang dynamic that boasted dizzying thematic and stylistic shifts, whether on short, sharp songs or epic numbers where conventional structures were thrown out of the window.

It’s not that Matthews’ highly accomplished band don’t deliver some characteristically classy textures. They enrich the sweltering Virginia in the Rain with arthouse ambience, not to mention locking in to superb chugging grooves on She and delicately painting the lovestruck Here On Out with appropriately tasteful colours.

The problem is that hearing supremely gifted musicians like Carter Beauford, Tim Reynolds and Stefan Lessard playing such conservative material is the equivalent of hitting the highway in a Ferrari and then keeping it in second gear. They certainly haven’t been handcuffed, as on the Glen Ballard-produced ‘Everyday’, but without their virtuosic musicality adding uniqueness, surprise and excitement, the whole record feels rather one dimensional.

Dave Matthews Band obviously set out to make a certain type of album here, and it’s one that reflects their leader’s current emotional mindset.  Although Can’t Stop (which is funkier and more upbeat than the well-known live version, but also messier because its parts feel stitched together) and the dreadfully misjudged That Girl Is You fail to impress, they’ve mostly executed their intentions very well on a record that’s solid and entertaining without ever threatening to achieve classic status.

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